Businesses against new ordinances

Published 8:00 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

Landrum meeting packed with residents against new regulations

LANDRUM — Landrum residents and business owners made it crystal clear they are not in favor of proposed new ordinances for downtown.

It was standing room only inside the Landrum City Council chambers on Tuesday, as residents lined the walls during the council’s meeting that evening.

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The council held a public hearing, with 17 residents and business owners speaking, all against the proposal.

Jason Ashmore, a real estate agent and investor in downtown Landrum, said the new ordinances would restrict his buildings for the uses he purchased them for.

“I cannot oppose this ordinance any more, at all,” said Ashmore.

He said this proposal is probably the biggest decision Landrum has faced since the city was incorporated.

“This town has become vibrant, not because of the city manager and mayor,” Ashmore said.

He said it has become vibrant because of the property and business owners who work daily in Landrum.

Bill Robinson, who owns buildings downtown, said if Landrum wants to grow, look at what Spartanburg and Greenville did.

“Sell this town for what it is, and you’ll bring [in] retail,” Robinson said.

He and others talked about what they said are real issues downtown, which is a lack of parking.

“Do you know how many people drive through this town, don’t find a place to park and keep going?” Robinson asked.

Terry Sellers handed out packets of information to the council, and said if Landrum passes the ordinances, they are basically saying they do not care about churches because Landrum First Baptist Church would not be able to expand or create anything new.

“I think that’s a bad message to send to this town,” Sellers said.

Some, including Chris Chestnut, questioned the amount of versions of the plan that has been proposed.

“There’s been four different versions of this so called map,” Chestnut said. “I would be concerned if I was on the committee and [City Administrator Rich Caplan], or council or the lawyer changed it every other week.”

Chestnut said these proposals have stirred up the whole town, and the process has not been very transparent.

Chestnut also mentioned a minimum lot size proposal, and asked council if they realized that it was 0.148 acres.

“It’s very evident you don’t want nonprofits that don’t pay property taxes,” Chestnut said. “It’s very concerning.”

Jimmy Ashmore asked who would start a business and not expect it to expand. He questioned how the meetings were advertised to discuss the changes, and said it might have helped if the town had contacted businesses owned by people who would be negatively affected by the ordinances.

“People of Landrum…I ask you to please don’t let up on what we are doing tonight,” he said.

Business owner Jenni Arias asked what brought this on.

She said it is not right that no input was sought from business and property owners. She said she wants to buy a building, but why would she buy one now if she cannot rent it out in the future.

“If you pass something like this, you can count on my business leaving town, as well as others,” Arias said.

Following the public hearing, council immediately tabled the first reading of the ordinances.

Councilman Billy Inman said council needs to take all the comments in before members make a decision.  The council plans to discuss the proposed ordinances at the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 9.

The Landrum Planning Commission recommended the ordinances as part of Landrum’s “Envision Landrum,” which is a 10-year plan the council approved in 2017. One of the initiatives of the plan was to create a downtown overlay pedestrian district that city officials say would strengthen Landrum’s tourism-related businesses.

The proposed district would include East Rutherford Street, from Church Avenue to Howard Avenue; West Rutherford Street, from Howard Avenue to Randolph Avenue; North Trade Avenue, from East Rutherford Street to East Coleman Street; and North Howard Avenue, from Rutherford Street north for 270 feet.

The proposed ordinances would restrict new businesses that can operate on the first floor of buildings in the new district, including that new businesses such as banks, general offices, churches and schools would not be permitted on the ground floor. Current businesses of this nature located on the first floor would be grandfathered in, but would not be able to expand.